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Public statements often make history. Some are remembered. Some are forgotten.
At a time when Indian opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi says that his disqualification from Parliament is politically motivated, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has opined that Mr Gandhi has resorted to ‘gimmicks’ for ‘cheap popularity’. Union Minister Anurag Thakur said elected representatives stand disqualified the moment they are convicted by a court and sentenced to jail for two or more years. He also made it clear that the Union government has no role to play in the matter and cannot suspend or revoke the disqualification.
In this regard, a plea has been filed in the Supreme Court by a social activist against the law under which Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified.
In his first press conference after being disqualified from the Lower House of Parliament (Lok Sabha), Rahul Gandhi said that his voice cannot be silenced by this disqualification or by putting him in jail. He added that he will continue to defend what he termed as the democratic voice of the people of India.
Interestingly, as Rahul Gandhi said that he would never say sorry for his remark, let us go back to 8th May 2019, when he tendered an unconditional apology in the Supreme Court for ‘unintentionally and inadvertently’ attributing the “Chowkidar Chor Hai” (The security guard is a thief) jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Earlier in the week, Gandhi was convicted by a court in Surat in the western state of Gujarat in a criminal defamation case.
Though Rahul Gandhi on Saturday thanked the other opposition parties for their support, the state of his Congress Party is in disarray. The Party is planning protests throughout the country against his disqualification, but will it really make a difference in the current political status of the party?
Dismal is the probable answer. It may take some space in the next few days in the newspapers but there are stories and events which are expected to overpower it soon. Though a section of the international press has reported on this issue, but it has not cut much ice among the public inside the country as government’s success stories and impending election stories are far more on the forefront. Though some political pundits argue that the disqualification may result in gains for the Congress party, others argue that it is unlikely.
The Congress had termed it as a ‘black day’ for Indian democracy saying that the battle would be fought both ‘legally and politically’.
Of late, many statements of Rahul Gandhi have caught attention becoming news items.
The ruling BJP says Rahul said that why are all people with Modi surname thieves? The BJP says Gandhi has insulted the backward society. “You have the right to criticise but don’t have the right to insult,” the party thundered.
Earlier, Rahul Gandhi had said in London that democracy is weakening in India and the European countries are not paying attention. This statement of his also drew flak in India.
But for now, the Wayanad constituency seat is vacant, and all eyes are on the Election Commission which will take a call on the date of a by-poll in this district of Kerela.
There is nothing new about “chatbots” that are capable of maintaining a conversation in natural language, understanding a user’s basic intent, and offering responses based on preset rules and data. But the capacity of such chatbots has been dramatically augmented in recent months, leading to handwringing and panic in many circles.
Much has been said about chatbots auguring the end of the traditional student essay. But an issue that warrants closer attention is how chatbots should respond when human interlocutors use aggressive, sexist, or racist remarks to prompt the bot to present its own foul-mouthed fantasies in return. Should AIs be programmed to answer at the same level as the questions that are being posed?
If we decide that some kind of regulation is in order, we must then determine how far the censorship should go. Will political positions that some cohorts deem “offensive” be prohibited? What about expressions of solidarity with West Bank Palestinians, or the claim that Israel is an apartheid state (which former US President Jimmy Carter once put into the title of a book)? Will these be blocked as “anti-Semitic”?
The problem does not end there. As the artist and writer James Bridle warns, the new AIs are “based on the wholesale appropriation of existing culture,” and the belief that they are “actually knowledgeable or meaningful is actively dangerous.” Hence, we should also be very wary of the new AI image generators. “In their attempt to understand and replicate the entirety of human visual culture,” Bridle observes, “[they] seem to have recreated our darkest fears as well. Perhaps this is just a sign that these systems are very good indeed at aping human consciousness, all the way down to the horror that lurks in the depths of existence: our fears of filth, death, and corruption.”
But just how good are the new AIs at approximating human consciousness? Consider the bar that recently advertised a drink special with the following terms: “Buy one beer for the price of two and receive a second beer absolutely free!” To any human, this is obviously a joke. The classic “buy one, get one” special is reformulated to cancel itself out. It is an expression of cynicism that will be appreciated as comic honesty, all to boost sales. Would a chatbot pick up on any of this?
“Fuck” presents a similar problem. Although it designates something that most people enjoy doing (copulation), it also often acquires a negative valence (“We’re fucked!” “Go fuck yourself!”). Language and reality are messy. Is AI ready to discern such differences?
In his 1805 essay “On the gradual formation of thoughts in the process of speech” (first published posthumously in 1878), the German poet Heinrich von Kleist inverts the common wisdom that one should not open one’s mouth to speak unless one has a clear idea of what to say: “If therefore a thought is expressed in a fuzzy way, then it does not at all follow that this thought was conceived in a confused way. On the contrary, it is quite possible that the ideas that are expressed in the most confusing fashion are the ones that were thought out most clearly.”
The relationship between language and thought is extraordinarily complicated. In a passage from one of Stalin’s speeches from the early 1930s, he proposes radical measures to “detect and fight without mercy even those who oppose collectivization only in their thoughts – yes, I mean this, we should fight even people’s thoughts.” One can safely presume that this passage was not prepared in advance. After getting caught up in the moment, Stalin immediately became aware of what he had just said. But instead of backpedaling, he decided to stick with his hyperbole.
As Jacques Lacan later put it, this was a case of truth emerging by surprise through the act of enunciation. Louis Althusser identified a similar phenomenon in the interplay between prise and surprise. Someone who suddenly grasps (“prise”) an idea will be surprised by what she has accomplished. Again, can any chatbot do this?
The problem is not that chatbots are stupid; it is that they are not “stupid” enough. It is not that they are naive (missing irony and reflexivity); it is that they are not naive enough (missing when naivety is masking perspicacity). The real danger, then, is not that people will mistake a chatbot for a real person; it is that communicating with chatbots will make real persons talk like chatbots – missing all the nuances and ironies, obsessively saying only precisely what one thinks one wants to say.
When I was younger, a friend went to a psychoanalyst for treatment following a traumatic experience. This friend’s idea of what such analysts expect from their patients was a cliché, so he spent his first session delivering fake “free associations” about how he hated his father and wanted him dead. The analyst’s reaction was ingenious: he adopted a naive “pre-Freudian” stance and reproached my friend for not respecting his father (“How can you talk like that about the person who made you what you are?”). This feigned naivety sent a clear message: I don’t buy your fake “associations.” Would a chatbot be able to pick up on this subtext?
Most likely, it would not, because it is like Rowan Williams’s interpretation of Prince Myshkin in Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot. According to the standard reading, Myshkin, “the idiot,” is a saintly, “positively good and beautiful man” who is driven into isolated madness by the harsh brutalities and passions of the real world. But in Williams’s radical re-reading, Myshkin represents the eye of a storm: good and saintly though he may be, he is the one who triggers the havoc and death that he witnesses, owing to his role in the complex network of relationships around him.
It is not just that Myshkin is a naive simpleton. It is that his particular kind of obtuseness leaves him unaware of his disastrous effects on others. He is a flat person who literally talks like a chatbot. His “goodness” lies in the fact that, like a chatbot, he reacts to challenges without irony, offering platitudes bereft of any reflexivity, taking everything literally and relying on a mental auto-complete rather than authentic idea-formation. For this reason, the new chatbots will get along very well with ideologues of all stripes, from today’s “woke” crowd to “MAGA” nationalists who prefer to remain asleep.
Courtesy: Project Syndicate
China’s mediation to normalise Saudi-Iranian diplomatic ties has been widely welcomed internationally, especially in the West Asian region. A clutch of unhappy states that do not want to see China stealing a march on any front, even if it advances the cause of world peace, mutely watched.
The US led this pack of dead souls. But the US is also on the horns of a dilemma. Can it afford to be a spoiler? Saudi Arabia is not only the fountainhead of petrodollar recycling — and, therefore, a pillar of the western banking system — but also America’s number one market for arms exports. Europe is facing energy crisis and the stability of the oil market is an overriding concern.
Saudi Arabia has shown remarkable maturity to maintain that its “Look East” policy and the strategic partnership with China do not mean it is dumping the Americans. Saudis are treading softly.
After all, Jamal Khashoggi was a strategic asset of the US security establishment; the US is a stakeholder in the Saudi succession and it has a consistent record of sponsoring regime changes to create pliable regimes.
Yet, the fact remains that the Saudi-Iranian deal drives a knife into the heart of the US’ West Asian strategy. The deal leaves the US and Israel badly isolated. The Jewish lobby may show its unhappiness during President Biden’s bid for another term. China has stolen a march on the US with far-reaching consequences, which signifies a foreign policy disaster for Biden.
Washington has not spoken the last word and may be plotting to push back the peace process from becoming mainstream politics of the West Asian region. The American commentators are visualising that the Saudi-Iranian normalisation will be a long haul and the odds are heavily stacked against it.
However, the regional protagonists are already creating firewalls locally to preserve and foster the new spirit of recnciliation. Of course, China (and Russia) too lend a helping hand. China has mooted the idea of a regional summit between Iran and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council by the end of this year.
An unnamed Saudi official told the establishment daily Asharq Al-Awsat that Chinese President Xi Jinping approached Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister, last year about Beijing serving as a ‘bridge’ between the Kingdom and Iran and the latter welcomed it, as Riyadh sees Beijing being in a ‘unique’ position to wield unmatched ‘leverage’ in the Gulf.
“For Iran in particular, China is either No 1 or No 2 in terms of its international partners. And so the leverage is important in that regard, and you cannot have an alternative that is equal in importance,” the Saudi official added.
The Saudi official said China’s role makes it more likely that the terms of the deal will hold. “It (China) is a major stakeholder in the security and stability of the Gulf,” he noted. The official also revealed that the talks in Beijing involved “five very extensive” sessions on thorny issues. The most difficult topics were related to Yemen, the media, and China’s role, the official said.
Meanwhile, there are positive tidings in the air too — the likelihood of a foreign minister level meeting between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the near future and, more importantly, the reported letter of invitation from King Salman of Saudi Arabia to Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi to visit Riyadh. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian remarked on Sunday with reference to the Yemeni crisis that “We [Iran] are working with Saudi Arabia on ensuring the stability of the region. We will not accept any threat against us from neighbouring countries.”
To be sure, the regional environment is improving. Signs of an overall easing of tensions have appeared. For the first visit of its kind in over a decade, the Turkish Foreign Minister was in Cairo and the Egyptian FM has been to Turkey and Syria. Last week, on return from Beijing, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council headed for the UAE where President Sheikh Mohammed received him.
Soon after that, on Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in the UAE on an official visit. “Syria has been absent from its brothers for too long, and the time has come for it to return to them and to its Arab surroundings,” Sheikh Mohamed told Assad during their historic meeting at the presidential palace.
In an interview with NourNews, Shamkhani described his 5 days’ talks in Beijing leading to the deal with Saudi Arabia as “frank, transparent, comprehensive and constructive.” He said, “Clearing misunderstandings and looking to the future in Tehran-Riyadh relations will definitely lead to the development of regional stability and security and the increase of cooperation between the countries of the Persian Gulf and the Islamic world to manage the existing challenges.”
Evidently, the regional states are tapping the “feel-good” generated by the Saudi-Iranian understanding. Contrary to the western propaganda of an estrangement lately between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed is identifying closely with the positive trends in the regional environment.
This is where China’s overarching role fostering dialogue and amity becomes decisive. The regional countries regard China as a benign interlocutor and the concerted attempts by the US and its junior partners to run down China make no impact on the regional states.
China has immense economic interests in the region — especially, expansion of the Silk Road in West Asia. The region’s political stability and security, therefore, is of vital interest to Beijing and prompts it to become the sponsor and guarantor of the Saudi-Iranian agreement. Clearly, the durability of the Saudi-Iranian deal should not be underestimated. The Saudi-Iranian agreement will remain West Asia’s most important development for a long time.
Fundamentally, both Saudi Arabia and Iran have compulsions to shift the locus of their national strategies to development and economic growth. This has received scant attention. The Western media has deliberately ignored this and instead demonised the Saudi Crown Prince and created a doomsday scenario for Iran’s Islamic regime.
That said, the known unknown is the tension building up over Iran’s nuclear programme. The issue is among the most prominent points of contention between Tehran and the Kingdom. Also, Israeli threats of attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities are escalating. Significantly, Iran’s FM Amirabdollahian is expected to visit Moscow this week.
A Russian-Chinese coordinated effort is needed to forestall the US from raking up the nuclear issue in tandem with Israel and ratchet up tensions, including military tensions, in such a way that a pretext becomes available to destabilise the region and marginalise the Saudi-Iran agreement as the leitmotif of regional politics.
All parties understand only too well that “If the Beijing agreement materialises, the violent and fanatical right-wing Israeli government will be the first to lose out, as respecting the agreement would give rise to a stable and prosperous regional system that sets the course for further normalisations and all the achievements that ensue from them,” as a Lebanese columnist wrote today in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
On balance, the regional states are acting on free will, increasingly and eschewing their determinism that was wedded to decisions and actions that were thought to be causally inevitable. The realisation has dawned now that it is within the capacity of sovereign states to make decisions or perform actions independently of any prior event or state of the universe.
The arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Vladimir Putin can only be seen as a publicity stunt by the Anglo-Saxon clique, with the US leading from the rear. Ironically, though, the ICC acted on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to horrific war crimes but the “judges” at Hague slept over it. Both Washington and London admit today that the 2003 invasion was illegal — based on trumped up allegations against Saddam Hussein.
There’s no chance, of course, that the ICC warrant will ever be taken seriously. ICC has no jurisdiction in Russia, which, like the US, is not a signatory to the Rome Statute. But the intention here is something else.
The mud-throwing at Putin is yet another display of President Biden’s visceral hatred towards the Russian leader that goes back to a joust in Moscow well over a decade ago when Putin told him off brusquely, and is timed to distract attention from the state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow on Monday, an event that not only has spectacular optics but is sure to intensify the “no limit” partnership between the two superpowers.
The Anglo-Saxon clique is watching with dismay the talks in Moscow tomorrow. To be sure, Moscow and Beijing have decided to stand together to bury the US hegemony.
Today, China exceeds the combined manufacturing capacity of the US and its European allies, and, equally, Russia has emerged as the world’s largest nuclear weapon state superior to the US both in the quantity and quality of weaponry.
It has dawned on the American mind that Russia cannot be defeated in Ukraine. There is a chicken-and-egg situation facing NATO, according to a report in Politico. Massive investments are needed to catch up with Russia’s defence industry but Europe’s ailing economies have other critical priorities of survival and battling mounting social unrest.
The notions of defeating Russia in a proxy war in conditions of “sanctions from hell” have turned out to be delusional. It is the US banks that are collapsing, it is European economies that are threatened by stagnation.
The US’ exasperation is evident in the top secret mission by MQ-9 Reaper drone near the Crimean peninsula on March 14. US Global Hawk drones have been spotted regularly over the Black Sea in recent years but this case is different.
The Reaper’s transponder was switched off as it approached Russia’s temporary regime for the airspace established for the purposes of the special military operation near the Crimean peninsula (which Moscow had duly notified to all users of international airspace in accordance with international norms.)
In the event, Russia’s Su-27 fighter jets outmanoeuvred the Reaper, which lost control and drowned in the Black Sea. Moscow conferred state awards to the two pilots who drove Reaper to the seabed.
Russian ambassador in Washington since warned that while Moscow is not seeking any escalation, any deliberate attack on a Russian aircraft in neutral airspace will be construed as “an open declaration of war against the largest nuclear power.”
If the US had planned the drone incident to test Russia’s reaction, well, the latter has given an unambiguous response. And all this took place in the immediate run-up to President Xi’s visit.
Biden since hit back by welcoming the ICC warrant on Putin saying “it’s justified… (and) makes a very strong point.” But Biden’s ageing memory is failing him again. For, the stated American position on ICC is that Washington not only doesn’t recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC but if any US national is arrested or brought before the ICC, Washington reserves the right to use military force to rescue the detainee!
Furthermore, Washington has threatened reprisal against any country that cooperates with an ICC warrant against a US citizen. The George W Bush administration stated this categorically as US policy on ICC against the backdrop of the Anglo-American clique’s horrific war crimes in Iraq, and the US never resiled from it.
By the way, there has been no referral by the UN Security Council or General Assembly to the ICC. So, who organised this arrest warrant? Britain — who else? The Brits bullied the ICC judges who are highly vulnerable to blackmail, as they draw fat salaries and would sup with the devil if it helped secure extended terms for them at the Hague. This becomes yet another case study of the piecemeal destruction of the UN system by the Anglo-Saxon clique in the recent years.
Suffice to say, the drone incident and the ICC warrant vitiate the climate for any dialogue between Moscow and Kiev. Evidently, the Anglo-Saxon clique is worried like hell that China might spring another surprise as it did by mediating the recent Saudi-Iranian deal.
In a meaningful remark, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Friday that Xi’s visit is partially to promote “peace.” Beijing has already released a “peace plan” for Ukraine, a 12-point agenda for “a political resolution of the Ukraine crisis,” which is on Zelensky’s desk in Kiev although the West studiously chose to ignore it.
In a phone call on Thursday, Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that Beijing hopes “all parties will remain calm, rational and restrained, and resume peace talks as soon as possible.”
The Chinese readout said Kuleba discussed “the prospect of peace talks … and noted that China’s position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis shows its sincerity in promoting a ceasefire and an end to the conflict. He expressed the hope to maintain communication with China.”
Unsurprisingly, Biden is paranoid about China’s push to mediate between Moscow and Kiev. The point is, he and Zelensky are locked in a deathly embrace — the corruption scam involving the activities of Hunter Biden in Kiev is hanging over the father’s political career like the Damocles’ sword, while on the other hand, Zelensky is also fighting for political survival and is increasingly daring to act on his own accord.
Disregarding western doubts about the wisdom of holding the shattered frontline city of Bakhmut in Donbass, Zelensky is digging in and keeping up an attritional defence that may drag on. (Politico)
Evidently, Biden is acting like a cat on the hot tin roof. He can neither let go Zelensky nor can he afford to be locked into a forever war in Ukraine while Taiwan Straits is beckoning him to a greater destiny.
Beijing’s stance has visibly hardened lately and the scorn that the US poured on China’s national pride by shooting down its weather balloon has only exacerbated the distrust. Similarly, the nadir has been reached for Russia with the Reaper drone provocation and the Anglo-Saxon clique’s ICC scam.
Xi has chosen Russia for his first visit abroad in his third term also, the war in Ukraine notwithstanding. While announcing Xi’s visit to Russia, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “As the world enters a new period of turbulence and change, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an important power, the significance and influence of China-Russia relations go far beyond the bilateral scope.”
Again, Biden would have thought he was putting Putin on the mat with the Reaper stunt and the ICC scam. But Putin is nonchalant, choosing today to make his first-ever visit to Donbass.
Putin toured Mariupol, the port city that was bitterly contested by the NATO operatives in league with the Ukrainian Neo-Nazi brigade, drove a vehicle along the city streets, making stops at several locations and surveying reconstruction works. It is a defiant signal to Biden that NATO has lost the war.
Mr. Annamalai’s entry into Tamil Nadu politics, after resigning from the post of high profile police officer at young age , reminds one about the freedom fighters before India’s independence when several highly qualified persons even from low income families entered politics with high motivation to fight for India’s freedom.
Certainly, even the pledged critics of Mr. Annamalai cannot but agree that he has brought in a refreshing political climate in Tamil Nadu, due to his caliber and sense of commitment to value system , which obviously are of much higher standards than the other political leaders in the state. Several of his public speeches and observations have been scholarly , whether it concerns philosophy or history or economics or politics.
Need for quality leadership
In the last sixty years or so , Tamil Nadu politics has been dominated by dravidian parties, when political and administrative corruption have gradually and steadily become the order of the day. The social life and harmony in the state has been uprooted by lifting prohibition and in the process, driving large section of menfolk into liquor addicts. As a result, life of several women particularly in poor families have almost become like one living in a hell, taking beatings form the menfolk.
Of late,. violence in public life have increased to an alarming level due to loss of value system in public and private life, due to steadily declining standards of political leadership in the state.
The recent east Erode by election is a case study and immediate example to show the extent of deterioration in the political and social climate and value system in the state.
Obviously, there is urgent need for quality leadership to restore Tamil Nadu’s glory.
Kamaraj Era :
In such conditions, the young people, who have not seen or experienced the glorious administration of the former Chief Minister Mr. Kamaraj before the dravidian parties came to power , wonder whether such a person like Mr. Kamaraj of great eminence and commitment to probity could have lived in Tamil Nadu and ruled Tamil Nadu with such lofty standards at all.
Certainly, there is a widespread desire and yearning amongst cross section of discerning people in Tamil Nadu today that a progressive political climate with value systems with probity and transparency in governance as existed in Kamaraj era. is urgently needed.
Today, there is a compelling need to bring back the glory of Tamil culture and traditions and this would be possible only by replacing the dravidian parties with alternate leadership of much higher standards and commitment.
What Mr. Annamalai justifiably desires ?
When Mr. Annamalai entered Tamil Nadu politics, many people saw his entry with curiosity and disbelief , as sacrifice of personal interest for the sake of public cause amongst political leaders have become unknown in Tamil Nadu these days.
Certainly, activities of Mr. Annamalai with courage of conviction and unbending desire to fight for rightful cause and backed by high level of education and knowledge , has caught the imagination of the people.
For the sake of political compulsions, Mr. Annamalai is unwilling to align his party with other parties, some of whose leaders are facing corruption charges.
Mr. Annamalai justifiably thinks that Kamaraj era can be brought back to Tamil Nadu , only by taking an uncompromising stand on principles and guided by national cause and providing an opportunity for the people to exercise their franchise during the elections based on the need for value system in public life.
Mr. Annamalai is certainly not interested in taking a short term look to win elections in 2024 or 2026 for his party . Mr. Annamalai has made it clear that he is willing to put forth utmost efforts and hard work to convince people to vote for his party under the leadership of Prime Minister Mr. Modi.. This is the mental outlook and approach that would reflect on statesmanship quality of a political leader.
Prime Minister should stand by Mr. Annamalai in his quest for probity in public life and share his faith in people’s wisdom , if given an opportunity to exercise their franchise
Former Prime Minister of Australia Paul Keating has labelled the AUKUS military alliance and more specifically the recently concluded submarine deal as the worst mistake Australia has done in its history. His national press club address has been widely publicised and does not need repetition here.
It is however interesting to discuss a few basic issues he mentioned as reasons for his criticism. Firstly, his assertion that the AUKUS alliance is all about maintaining US hegemony over the South China sea and containing, to the extent possible, China’s ability to move freely within and outside this area of the sea. Secondly, the futility of a few submarines, nuclear or otherwise, attempting to do this in the shallow, easily detectible sea off China and thirdly, the formation of a military alliance that includes Australia where Australia faces no threat militarily from China.
At the outset, in context, it is useful to mention Newtons third law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The formation of this alliance too could be looked at from this perspective. Accordingly, while trading profitably with each other, the three countries in the Alliance, the US, Australia, and UK, will strengthen their military and China will do their best to outdo, but more importantly outsmart all three. The already accelerated arms race will get to high gear now with billions of dollars being spent more on posturing than on any real military encounter by any of the constituents of AUKUS. Consequences for the ordinary people in all these countries and all other countries will have a flow on effect as funds available for the welfare of the people will be eroded and diverted to military expenditure.
Before Newton, Buddha came out with a truism called dependent origination or in Pali, paticca samuppada. As stated in a Buddhist enquiry article (https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/article/dependent-origination/, “what the dependent origination or paṭicca-samuppāda actually describes is a vision of life or an understanding in which we see the way everything is interconnected—that there is nothing separate, nothing standing alone. Everything effects everything else. We are part of this system. We are part of this process of dependent origination—causal relationships effected by everything that happens around us and, in turn, effecting the kind of world that we all live in inwardly and outwardly.”
This is the first reality one will have to understand and accept as a reality. Many actions will follow from the military alliance and the submarine deal. The alliance appears to not understand and to disregard the interconnected nature of these actions These will lead to ongoing consequences, most which will be negative rather than positive. Although not a military issue, Australia and the world witnessed the reaction of the Chinese government when some actions of Australia, including its role in the WHO attempt to carry out an inspection of Chinese facilities to ascertain whether the COVID virus originated in a Chinese laboratory. This attempt by Australia without any discussion with China, cost the country dearly with several commercial sanctions which incidentally are still in place. As Mr Keating said, diplomatic and commercial disagreements are being linked to non-existent military confrontations in the guise of foreign policy.
The distrust created with China by AUKUS and the submarine deal will have consequential reactions from China. It is hard if not impossible to see how trust can be restored in an environment where diplomacy has been superseded by militarism. It is unfortunate for the future generations that the current leadership of the two major political parties in Australia have consigned them, without any discussion with them, to an uncertain and confrontational future with China, the worlds next superpower in the not-too-distant future.
In any military conflict, irrespective of which side “wins”, there are no real winners or losers. It is just a scenario where the aggressors, the defenders and the bystanders play musical chairs, with each category moving around taking on each other’s roles in a cyclical manner. It is a futile, costly exercise that could have been avoided if disagreements were discussed and resolved through compromise and respect for each other. Many either ignore or are indifferent to the damage a war inflicts on the families and loved ones within each category, and a countless number of people who are not directly associated with a war.
According to the Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties), the total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was about 40 million: estimates range from around 15 to 22 million deaths and about 23 million wounded military personnel, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. The total number of deaths includes from 9 to 11 million military personnel. The civilian death toll was about 6 to 13 million.
During World War 2, estimates for the total number of casualties in the war vary because many deaths went unrecorded. Most suggest that some 75 million people died in the war, including about 20 million military personnel and 40 million civilians. Many civilians died because of deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease, and starvation. The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people during the war, including 8.7 million military and 19 million civilian deaths. (https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-hccc-worldhistory2/chapter/casualties-of-world-war-ii/
Outside of World War 1 and 2, the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Afghanistan, Iraq and other military conflicts have witnessed the deaths of millions.
If a war is to be fought, and countries are indifferent to the death and destruction it causes, each side has to have the resolve, strength and the equipment to match the other side. As Mr Keating says, whether a few submarines, nuclear powered but firing conventional weapons does not seem to be indicative of parity. In the name of parity, if nuclear weapons are to replace conventional ones, the nuclear arms race will intensify, and more people will face death and destruction if a military engagement occurs and nuclear weapons are used. In such possible scenarios, it likely that China will enhance their defence capability in the face of AUKUS nations ramping their military capabilities. With technology advancements being what they are and potentially exponential advancements, the nuclear submarines being designed and built could well be obsolete when they are built and are seaworthy. The world does spend a lot of money to kill people.
Mr Keatings third point is about the military strategy Australia has chosen in association with the US and UK over a diplomatic strategy with China. He has maintained, rightly, that China is Australia’s largest trading country and therefore commercial considerations rather than military ones should underpin the relations between the two countries. Again, as he says, the country’s foreign policy should not be dictated by military requisites but diplomatic requisites and mutual trust and not distrust. A military build up as envisaged is bound to foster mistrust between China and Australia and eventually impact adversely on the trading relationship between the two countries.
According to the website Statista (https://www.statista.com/statistics/622568/australia-export-partners-by-value/), in 2021, China was Australia’s leading export partner, importing approximately 115 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of goods, followed by Japan and the European Union. Tensions have been building up in China-Australia relations and has impacted on trade.
Data released by the General Administration of Customs (GAC) showed that, in 2022, bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$220.91 billion, down 3.9 percent year-on-year, with Australia’s exports to China amounting to US$142.09 billion, a decrease of 13.1 percent from 2021. China remains a primary export market for many Australian products, such as coal, iron ore, and wine. However, several of these products lost their market share as domestic businesses looked for substitutes to lessen the risk of interruption amid thawing ties (https://www.china-briefing.com/news/china-australia-trade-relations-growing-stronger/). Besides this, the website also states that quote “notwithstanding the scope of market opportunities for China and Australia, bilateral ties have not always been favourable. Over the past five years, tensions have piled up on a range of issues related to technology, politics, and trade. In 2018, invoking concerns for national security, Australia became the first member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to prohibit Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE telecommunications gear from participating in its telecom infrastructure. In addition, Australia openly supported a number of US-led efforts aimed at containing China’s expanding influence in the Indo-Pacific, including the AUKUS alliance, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, and the Partners in the Blue Pacific. Early in 2020, amid tensions over the nature of COVID-19, bilateral ties took a sudden turn for the worst. China imposed import bans on a variety of Australian exports, including coal, barley, wine, cattle, and seafood. Australia responded by escalating the trade dispute to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and canceling the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deal previously agreed to between China and the state of Victoria.
Such occurrences have had a negative impact on trade. Australian exports of wine, barley, lobsters, cattle, and coal were severely impacted, while Chinese companies were subject to increased scrutiny, particularly for transactions involving crucial infrastructure. As a result of escalating diplomatic tensions, several Chinese companies adjusted their coal purchases from Australia to reduce potential risks. Consequently, China imported 66.37 million tons less Australian coal in 2021 than it did in 2020, a decrease of more than 85 percent year-on-year” unquote.
In summary, one cannot be but convinced that Mr Paul Keating is right that the AUKUS military alliance and the submarine deal will have a negative effect on Australia/China relations in the long term and that future generations will face the consequences of this serious mis step in military strategy camouflaged as foreign policy. The question the younger generations should ask themselves is whether Australia should overlook the misdemeanours of the US when it supports countries like Saudi Arabia and other dictatorships and argue that they, the USA, is a protector of democracy, and that they are taking on China because of its undemocratic policies and practices. Not much or in fact anything is said about the rise in living standards in China and the very significant drop in poverty levels in China. Nothing is also said about poverty in the USA, the citadel of democracy, where, according to https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2022/demo/p60-277.html, the official poverty rate in 2021 was 11.6 percent, with 37.9 million people in poverty. In contrast, as estimated by the World Bank, China’s poverty rate had fallen from 88 percent in 1981 to 0.7 percent in 2015, as measured by the percentage of people living on the equivalent of US$1.90 or less per day in 2011 purchasing price parity terms, which still stands in 2022 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_China).
It does appear that the US is driven by the fear that China will overtake them as the superpower of the world soon and they are garnering support from willing allies like Australia and UK to delay the inevitable as much as possible. The danger for Australia is that they will be like, to quote a pithy Sinhala idiom ‘Girayata ahuwechcha puwak gediya wage (an arecanut caught between the two levers of a giraya, a familiar object in most Sinhala homes, fashioned out of brass, steel, silver or gold and used to slice arecanuts) –a paradoxical situation from which there is hardly any chance of escape. Australia has chosen this path and to be in an Anglo/Indian world, away from South East Asia and China where its prosperity and future lies.
Pakistan is a country that is most well-known for its lively culture and extensive history; yet, the country also has a wide variety of natural beauties that are sometimes disregarded. The impressiveness of Pakistan’s mountain ranges, the importance of the country’s rivers, the abundance of the country’s animal life, and the possibility of developing ecotourism in these regions.
The natural landscape of Pakistan is very varied, consisting of high-altitude mountains, enormous deserts, lush valleys, and rich river plains. The nation is home to some of the highest peaks in the world, such as K2 and Nanga Parbat, as well as the massive Indus River, which for millennia has been an important factor in the country’s agriculture and economy.
The Himalayas, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush Mountain ranges are all located in Pakistan, making it the home to some of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world. Mountaineers and others looking for exciting new experiences from all over the globe go to these mountain ranges because of the high peaks, deep valleys, and glaciers that may be found there. The Karakoram range is home to K2, the second-highest peak in the world. This mountain is famous for the technical challenges it presents as well as the stunning views it offers. The Karakoram Mountain range in Pakistan was breathtaking to see. There was nothing else quite like the towering peaks and expansive glaciers.
In addition to these well-known summits, Pakistan is home to several mountain ranges that are less well-known, such as the Kirthar and Sulaiman ranges. These regions provide one-of-a-kind possibilities for hiking, seeing native species, and discovering local culture.
The rivers that run across Pakistan, such as the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab, have all been significant contributors to the nation’s history and overall growth. These rivers are an essential resource for agriculture and business since they provide water that may be used for irrigation, transportation, and the generation of hydroelectric power.
White water rafting and fishing are only two of the recreational activities that may be enjoyed on Pakistan’s rivers. Specifically, those searching for an exciting rafting experience go to the Indus River, which is a popular location for those interested in adventure.
Pakistan is benefiting from the rich economic center platform that the Gwadar coast is giving. The fishing industry in these regions is highly regarded throughout the globe. With efforts by the government to construct infrastructure to showcase the undiscovered parts of Pakistan, the less developed areas are now attracting the attention of the world community. This is a result of the efforts that have been made to expose the uncharted areas of Pakistan.
The natural environment of Pakistan is home to a diverse array of animal life, including a great number of species that are exclusive to the territory of Pakistan. The snow leopard, for instance, is a flagship species that is only found in the high-altitude regions of Pakistan. It is a symbol of the country’s tremendous biodiversity since it can only be found in those areas. Other emblematic animals include the markhor, a kind of wild goat that lives in the highlands of Pakistan, and the Indus River dolphin, a species of freshwater dolphin that is indigenous to the Indus River. Both of these dolphins are unique to the Indus River.
The protection of these one-of-a-kind species and the environments in which they live is dependent on the success of conservation efforts. In an attempt to maintain its natural heritage, Pakistan has created several national parks and protected areas; nevertheless, Pakistan must continue its efforts to guarantee that these regions will be preserved for the benefit of future generations.
The natural beauties of Pakistan have a significant impact on the country’s tourist industry and provide possibilities for cultural discovery, outdoor activities, and animal watching. But, to preserve the natural environment and its inhabitants, tourism must be grown in a way that is both sustainable and responsible.
A lack of infrastructure and accessibility in distant parts of Pakistan, as well as concerns over safety and security, are some of the obstacles to the development of sustainable tourism in Pakistan. Nonetheless, there are already attempts being made to solve these difficulties, and sustainable tourism has the potential to give economic advantages to local people while also protecting the natural legacy of the nation.
Being in the middle of such breathtaking natural beauty brought home to me how vital it is to protect these regions for the sake of future generations. Contributing to conservation efforts is essential to ensure that these areas maintain their pristine state.
The land of Pakistan is home to an abundance of natural beauties that are sure to take your breath away. Pakistan provides tourists with an experience that is one of a kind and one that they will never forget, thanks to the country’s majestic mountains, flowing rivers, and diversified animal population. It is impossible to exaggerate the significance of these natural marvels since they play a vital part in ensuring the sustainability of the nation’s economy, culture, and environment.
Next Monday, an uneasy anniversary arrives. It will be 20 years since the invasion of Iraq by the United States. Britain was a pillar of the US-led ‘coalition of the willing.’ The Guardian columnist John Harris wrote on Sunday that it was “the greatest political and humanitarian disaster the UK had been involved in since the second world war… when the supposed political centre ground suddenly lurched somewhere reckless and catastrophic.”
The Iraq War caused endless violence and huge levels of death. Ironically, it was Seymour Hersh who exposed that horrific chronicle of torture in the Abu Ghraib by the US troops that shocked the world.
Harris made a debatable point that Iraq War had “profound effects” on the UK. He listed, amongst them, “a sense that politics and power had lurched away from the public, and left a huge and very uneasy gap.” Maybe he is right, but for the wrong reasons. As time passed, Iraq War made Britain’s party politics look farcical.
Britain today has a UniParty — the party of government, which seems to consist of the same people as the party of the opposition. Britain has reached where the US has been for quite some time — a cabal of political elites hijacking the country, operating its own agenda, regardless of which political party is formally in power — and the people at large having lost control of their government. That is why crimes like Abu Ghraib and Nord Stream go unpunished.
On March 3, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had a top secret one-on-one with Biden in the Oval Office in what appears to have been an attempt, among other things, to reach a consensus on how to handle Hersh’s explosive report on the sabotage of Nord Stream. (Read my blog Ukraine: A war to end all wars in Europe.)
Look at the sequence of events: Four days after Scholz met Biden, New York Times carried a sensational media leak regarding Nord Stream, attributing the sabotage to a “pro-Ukrainian group” consisting of five men and one woman who used a yacht rented in Poland.
The vessel was later found by German investigators — also a media leak in Berlin — and turned out to be the Andromeda, a Bavaria C50 sailing boat. The group reportedly embarked on their mission from Rostock on September 6, 2022. The equipment for the secret operation was allegedly transported to the port in a truck.
Germany’s Die Zeit backed the Times narrative in real time. But the narrative itself is riddled with discrepancies. Questions are galore: How could a 15-meter chartered yacht have possibly carried an estimated 1,500-2,000 kilograms of explosives required for the sabotage? How could Andromeda, which doesn’t have a crane, hoist such massive quantities of explosives safely into the water?
A Russian analysis points out that “the site of the explosion, the Baltic Sea, is about 80 meters deep, which requires special diving equipment, including air tanks with a helium-oxygen mixture and pure oxygen. All in all, one would need 30 litres of a special gas mixture for one dive alone, which means there must have been dozens of bottles on board. In addition, there should have been a decompression chamber for the divers, something that the yacht is not fit for. Furthermore, it would have taken several dives and a few days to lay the explosives on the pipelines. It’s hard to imagine that these activities would have gone completely unnoticed.”
The Times news desk evidently didn’t do any fact check. But on March 10, the chair of the Bundestag’s intelligence oversight committee, Konstantin von Notz from the Green Party, told Die Zeit that what happened was likely a “state-backed act of terrorism” and was likely conducted by a “state or quasi-state actor.”
Scholz is skating on thin ice. He heads a coalition of Atlanticists. But Germany is not yet a UniParty country. Besides, unlike in the US or the UK, in the German political system, the public prosecutor who is investigating the Nord Stream sabotage is an autonomous entity who can’t be ordered around by politicians in power.
The German defence minister Boris Pistorius’ reaction to the Times report shows it — that Germans don’t yet know whether this was a Ukrainian commando that acted with the knowledge of the Ukrainian government, a pro-Ukrainian group that acted without their knowledge, or whether it might have been a false flag operation. Berlin apparently doesn’t exclude official Ukrainian involvement.
Scapegoating comes handy for Washington in such situations as an exit strategy. A report in Politico on Sunday distanced the Biden Administration from the Ukrainian regime of Zelensky, and Nord Stream sabotage is mentioned there as one of three reasons for the “growing differences behind the scenes” between Washington and Kiev.
For the present, though, there seems to be a tacit understanding between Biden and Scholz that they will not tear each other up over this matter. As for Zelensky, he probably has no option but to play the role of a scapegoat when necessary.
By mentioning Nord Stream as a matter of discord between Washington and Kiev, the Politico report seems to hint to Zelensky that this is a high stakes game affecting transatlantic unity and scapegoat may become necessary.
Meanwhile, instead of pointing finger at Washington, the Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev was non-committal on Sunday, saying, “I emphasise that any accusations that are not supported by the results of an impartial investigation cannot be trusted. Therefore, Moscow insists on an objective investigation with the participation of Russia and other interested countries. Without this, voicing one-sided subjective versions of the terrorist attack does not explain anything.”
Patrushev has virtually challenged the Biden-Scholz tandem. To be sure, an impartial investigation will have political consequences. For one thing, German public opinion is relatively fickle on the issue of weapons deliveries. Second, Scholz cannot afford a perception that he is in collusion with Biden.
Of course, if it is established that a Ukrainian commando unit or an American outfit was responsible for the sabotage, the political consequences will be massive. German public may demand stoppage of arms supplies to Ukraine. On the other hand, if the US is responsible, the current renaissance in German-American ties will simply wither away.
Scholz is yet to understand that Transatlanticism is not the defining characteristic of the Democratic Party. His fate may turn out to be the same as Tony Blair’s. Harris wrote that the effects of Blair’s deceptions rippled on all the way to Brexit.
To quote him, “Iraq hideously sullied Blair and [Gordon] Brown’s domestic record and marked the end of the New Labour vision of Britain as a young, confident country. It reduced the fantasies of “liberal interventionism” to ash, and deepened the disaffection and unease that would lead to our exit from Europe.”
Handelsblatt newspaper in a report last Thursday pointed out that the investigation on Nord Stream may play politically into the hands of the far-left and the far-right in German politics. Can Scholz survive the deception over Nord Stream sabotage? If Ukraine is implicated, there is no going back for Germany.
“The loss of MH370 points us to an immediate need. A large commercial airliner going missing without a trace for so long is unprecedented in modern aviation. It must not happen again”. ~ Tony Tyler, Director General, International Air Transport Association (2014)
Just after midnight on 8 March 2014 A Boeing 777 Malaysian Airlines aircraft operating Flight MH 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur on its way to Beijing. 227 passengers and 12 crew were on board. A short time later, the aircraft was lost on radar between the air traffic control areas of Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City. Neither the aircraft nor the passengers or anything related thereto has been found so far except for a part of a wing and a few other pieces seemingly coming from the aircraft which were found off the coast of the French Reunion islands, Madagascar, and Mozambique, spawning theories that the plane could have veered off to somewhere in the Indian Ocean – a fact claimed to have been supported by data driven evidence.
All that is known is that at around 1.01 a.m. the aircraft had reached an altitude of 10,700 meters. The source of data transmission in the aircraft – The Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) – on the performance of the aircraft had send its last transmission at 1.07 am and blipped off at around 1:19 A.M. and at 1.21 the last communication from the crew had been recorded whereupon the plane’s communication between the aircraft and air traffic control ceased. This was when the transponder that communicated with the air-traffic control had got switched off just prior to Flight MH 370 entering Vietnamese airspace over the South China Sea.
Theories – unsubstantiated by cogent proof – abound. Netflix last week came out with a three-part series which had three theories. One was that it was the pilot who veered off into the Indian Ocean from the designated flight path and crashed the plane in the sea after it ran out of fuel. The second theory was that someone or some people hijacked the aircraft and flew it perhaps to Kazakhstan. The third theory was that the plane was carrying dangerous cargo (which had been loaded in Kuala Lumpur under armed escort) bound for China which was effectively precluded from getting there, perhaps by someone carrying out an armed attack on the plane in mid air.
The three theories came “supported” by some incredible facts. With regard to the first theory, the pilot in command – a seemingly respectable and respected family man who had tons of experience as a pilot with no history of professional irregularity, could have knocked off the electronics, thus making the aircraft invisible to radar; de pressurised the cabin; and put all persons on board to sleep (while he had put on a long lasting oxygen mask and despatched the First Officer out of the flight deck and locked the door), just to trash the aircraft in the Indian Ocean when the fuel tanks emptied. This drastic theory was based on the fact that the pilot had applied a similar deviating route (of going way South into the Indian Ocean) on his home simulator for fun. Thankfully, all concerned ruled out the pilot theory, when the other two theories saw light.
The second theory was that there could have been a Russian connection, as three Russians were on board. One was in first class where here was a “trap door” on the floor, unlocked, which led down to the computer centre of the aircraft. One of these three, it was surmised, could have surreptitiously gone down and disabled all electronic functions of the aircraft, disabled the flight crew and taken the aircraft to say, Kazakhstan.
The third theory – interception – was that someone thought the huge consignment of dangerous and sensitive cargo should not have been allowed to get into the hands of the Chinese, therefore two large aircraft (with huge dishes of some sort fixed on them that could disrupt electronics on any object below them) flew over MH 370 and somehow and possibly “blew up” the aircraft when the captain of MH 370 refused the commands from above to land in some place like the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. Or the aircraft may have landed somewhere in the Indonesian Islands and that is why there is no debris flying around.
Reparation for Loss
Watching this series, I felt intensely sorry for the families left behind who were interviewed. All of the above do not help the grieving father and husband who had lost his wife and two children; a wife whose husband left for Beijing for a job; and a young wife whose husband was a member of the cabin crew on the flight. They never returned.
Technically, as both Malaysia and China have ratified the Montreal Convention of 1999, the dependants are entitled to compensation for death or injury of the passengers on board (not the crew as they were under an employment contract with the airline). But there is a snag. The passengers are not proven to be dead or injured. This compensation would come from the insurers of the airline. As for Malaysia, as the aircraft bore the nationality of the State, some accountability would have to accrue. The BBC reported in 2014 that “the families of passengers on the missing Malaysian passenger plane have begun to receive initial compensation payments of $50,000 (£30,000). So far six Malaysian families and one Chinese family have received the money, and insurers are assessing the claims of 40 more Chinese families. Relatives of all 239 missing passengers can claim up to $175,000 each”. How this was computed was not revealed, although in the context of Malaysian Airlines, the Montreal Convention is clear – that once death or injury is established, there will be a preliminary sum of 100, 000 Special Drawing Rights (around 132,720 US $) which is paid with no questions asked. The plaintiffs can claim more than this amount but beyond the 100,000 SDRs the carrier can circumvent a claim for a higher amount if the carrier proves that: (a) such damage was not due to the negligence or other wrongful act or omission of the carrier or its servants or agents; or (b) such damage was solely due to the negligence or other wrongful act or omission of a third party.
There is also a provision – Article 28 – which admits of advance payments or upfront payments if required by national law, where the carrier should make advance payments without delay to a natural person or persons who are entitled to claim compensation in order to meet the immediate economic needs of such persons. Such advance payments do not presuppose a recognition of liability and may be offset against any amounts subsequently paid as damages by the carrier.
This absolute mystery at this time of sophisticated technology available through the application of satellite tracking cries out the question “why can’t we have a system of global tracking of any aircraft wherever they are”? Admittedly, on the face of it this is a simple enough question. However, for there to be global tracking of airborne aircraft (or aircraft under the sea or anywhere in the world for that matter) there would have to be some sort of reporting apparatus installed in an aircraft. Of course, one size might not fit all types of aircraft and such a system might take years to perfect.
Whatever the cause might have been for us to believe “beyond reasonable doubt” that there are no survivors; or whether the aircraft disappeared as a result of human intervention or technical malfunction, it is not for us to question our faith in whatever religious doctrine we believe in. As someone crudely put it: “shit happens”.
Ultimately it boils down to the grief-stricken relatives who are still waiting for an answer from the authorities. There is no point in blaming divine intervention. We bring these things upon ourselves. Rabbi Kushner has some wise words to say in his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People: “The painful things that happen to us are not punishments for our misbehavior, nor are they in any way part of some grand design on God’s part. Because the tragedy is not God’s will, we need not feel hurt or betrayed by God when tragedy strikes. We can turn to Him for help in overcoming it, precisely because we can tell ourselves that God is as outraged by it as we are”. Rabbi Yitzchok Kirzner, in one of his articles alludes to the possibility that : “not everything that takes place in the world has a purpose or comes from God. Efforts to reconcile the existence of evil and suffering in the world with God’s justice are a waste of time because they proceed from the false premise that everything that takes place in the world comes from God and has a purpose”.
I believe it is definitely not appropriate to ascribe the disappearance of the aircraft to an inadequacy of divine intervention. As the Dalai Lama once said: “According to the Latin root of the word “religion” would mean “to bind again”. Now how does the concept of binding or tying up come to be applied as the common term for all our various teachings? The common enemy of all moral precepts laid down by the great teachers of mankind is selfishness of mind. For it is just this which causes ignorance, anger and passion which are at the root of all the troubles of the world”.
Perhaps it all boils down to randomness, which seems to leave me with no alternative but to accept Rabbi Kushner’s wise words: “If you have been brave enough to love, and sometimes you won and sometimes you lost; if you have cared enough to try, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t; if you have been bold enough to dream and found yourself with some dreams that came true and a lot of broken pieces of dreams that didn’t, that fell to earth and shattered, then you can look back from the mountaintop you now find yourself standing on, like Moses contemplating the tablets that would guide human behavior for a millennia, resting in the Ark alongside the broken fragments of an earlier dream. And you, like Moses, can realize how full your life has been and how richly you are blessed. ”
This is how I see the passengers of Flight MH 370 to whom these thoughts are lovingly dedicated. I am still hoping they will come back to us.
The respect and public esteem that politicians commanded in India was at the highest level , when they were fighting for the freedom of the country from British rule under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The freedom for India was attained in 1947. At that time, ethics and morals were considered as cardinal principles of politics.
Many stalwarts with high level of personal integrity and lofty principles and commitment to national cause such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, C. Rajagopalachari and so many others were on the scene , who were respected even by the Britishers and even as the Britishers harassed them and put them in jail for their freedom struggle.
After independence in 1947, for around 15 years or so , reasonably high level of standards were maintained in the Indian politics . However, with the passing away of the freedom fighters one by one who were replaced by next generation politicians , standards of politics started declining in the country.
The deterioration steadily became more severe by the year 1980 and beyond when corruption level amongst politicians reached alarming level and became the order of the day. People started losing faith and started thinking that politicians remaining honest would be an exception rather than a rule in India.
In the year 2014 national elections, Mr. Modi campaigned strongly and promised to root out corruption in India in every sphere. As people were desperately looking for such commitment from a political leader, people responded and Mr. Modi became the Prime Minister of India.
Again in the year 2019, Mr. Modi was elected as Prime Minister of India , as people continued to believe that Mr. Modi could be the political leader who can root out corruption in India. While Mr. Modi’s Prime Ministership is being applauded or criticised for several reasons, the ground reality is that most people are impressed about the personal integrity of Mr. Modi and his success in leading the central government without any charges of corruption or nepotism against anyone of his ministers.
Mr. Modi is attempting to checkmate corruption by promoting transparency in administration , digitalisation of transactions, direct transfer of subsidies to poor people etc. But, corruption continues to prevail in India today.
Certainly, in the coming 2024 national election, by and large , people would evaluate Mr. Modi’s performance based on his efforts to root out corruption in India.
Corruption free India nowhere looks like emerging in the near future, inspite of the dent that Mr. Mod has made in the corruption climate in the country to some extent. The challenge for Mr. Modi in fighting corruption is in reforming the calibre of politicians in India .
The problem is that majority of politicians in India today are shameless and do not think that indulging in corruption is anything wrong. Now, further deterioration is seen that these corrupt politicians are not only shameless but are also becoming fearless. Some of them seem to think that going to jail on corruption charges would not be a bad idea , as they seem to think that they could gain people’s sympathy and get their votes. What sort of mindset is this?
Everyone of the politician who have indulged in corruption which are very obvious , call the investigation against their misdeeds as vendetta , when enforcement agencies catch them on some solid ground. Instead of feeling disturbed and shameful for being investigated against and the charges against them certainly credible , the corrupt politicians challenge the government and call the actions against them as vindictive and motivated. With money power at their disposal , they are able to organise demonstration and protest meetings and issue false narratives to mislead the gullible public. Media is full of stories about corrupt politicians being hauled up and these corrupt politicians defending themselves and with no sense of shame or fear.
It remains to be seen how Mr. Modi would deal with such shameless and fearless corrupt politicians . Putting them down is a pre condition to ensure near corruption free in India.
The challenge before Mr. Modi is grim and he has to live upto his reputation a s a crusader against corruption, before the forthcoming 2024 national election.
Obviously, Mr. Modi has to be ruthless in dealing with the corrupt politicians, whether they belong to the opposition political parties or his own political party. One may think that in the type of political climate in India today, where corruption has become a rule rather an exception and where corruption is no more confined to politics alone but also have trickled to all sorts of business activities at different level, Mr. Modi’s ruthless approach against corrupt politicians would be met with fierce resistance.
The task is really daunting, as several political parties are now really controlled by dynastic persons (family members ) , who adopt all sort of strategies to amass wealth by foul means and to protect their family interests . In such conditions, it has become necessary not only to catch the corrupt politicians but also their family members.
It remains to be seen as to whether such anti corruption efforts would lead to a situation, where Mr. Modi would go down by failing or go up by succeeding